OL Fullington on upward glide path

PULLMAN – The question caught John Fullington off guard more than any safety blitz ever had. Fullington, a sophomore offensive guard on the Washington State Cougars, practically bleeds crimson nowadays. However, Fullington grew up in Belfair surrounded by family members and relatives who were Washington graduates and/or diehard fans. So, John, fess up: Were you ever a Huskies fan?

"Uh-h-h-h-h-h," was John Fullington's initial response.

Mind you, Fullington is a bright young man who was recently named All-Academic honorable mention in the Pacific-12 Conference. The North Mason High graduate likes to think he showed his intelligence when he spurned the Huskies' late in the recruiting game to sign with Washington State, but he admits to past sins regarding the purple and gold.

"I guess," he said sheepishly, "I grew up a Husky fan."

Fullington just might be forgiven by the Wazzu faithful if he helps the Cougars snap a two-game Apple Cup losing streak Saturday at CenturyLink Field.

"We just have to treat this as our bowl game," Fullington said.

The Cougars' oft-stated goal was to play in a real bowl game for the first time in eight years. WSU's bowl hopes were dashed last Saturday in an overtime loss to Utah.

"This is our last week of the season," Fullington said in a somber tone. "That's kind of a bummer. It's hitting us that the season is at an end. We're not going to a bowl game. You've just got to overcome that and just finish strong. Finish with a win. Feel good about going into the off-season."

FULLINGTON WAS JUST 18 years old and 268 pounds last season when he became the rare true freshman to start at left tackle – protecting the quarterback's blind side – after David Gonzales broke his arm at midseason.

When Gonzales returned for his senior year, Fullington moved to left guard. He's started there every game, though he's seen practice time at left tackle this week with Gonzales and right tackle Dan Spitz questionable for Saturday due to ankle injuries.

"I think my season was all right," Fullington said. "I'd say a little inconsistent at times. I need to get more consistent."

"John's had a solid season," offensive line coach Steve Morton said. "I think over the last four or five weeks, he and most of the group, they've made some big strides."

Morton says he hasn't decided whether to play the 6-foot-5, 290-pound Fullington at guard or tackle next season.

An Apple Cup win is the focus now, however.

Quarterback Marshall Lobbestael, the Oak Harbor senior who has bounced in and out of the starting lineup this season, gets the start Saturday against Washington.

"I feel confident about him," Fullington said. "I think it's a good opportunity for him. It's exciting. It's his last game. There will be a lot of emotions going.

"We've got all the faith in the world in him."

NOTABLE NOTE: John's older brother, Josh, was a left-handed pitcher who was set up to go to WSU on a baseball scholarship. Alas, he never accepted the offer and, as he proceeded to have a miserable senior year, WSU ended up going in a different direction. John ended up at UW, but not as an athlete. While there are many Husky fans in the Fullington clan, one set of his grandparents are proud WSU alums. -- Chris Chancellor

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